Shoes shine!

Shoephoria! – The amazing feeling you get when wearing a new pair of fabulous shoes

2020 is the Year of the Shoe at the Fashion Museum Bath. A stunning new display feature showcasing some of the highlights and curiosities of the Museum’s world-class collection of more than 3,000 pairs of shoes will go on show at the Fashion Museum from Saturday 28 March 2020.

Demonstrating the creativity of shoemakers throughout history, more than 100 pairs of shoes and boots will be displayed, over half of which have never been on show before.

From the oldest shoes in the collection to shoes belonging to Her Majesty Queen Mary, from trainers and sneakers to designer shoes by Vivienne Westwood, Versace and Jimmy Choo, the Museum’s shoes on display will document the evolution of shoe style over the last 300 years.

Shoes will be interspersed with the fashions on display as part of the A History of Fashion in 100 Objectsexhibition, celebrating fashion from the 1600s to the present day.

Rosemary Harden, Fashion Museum Manager, said: “In 2020 the Fashion Museum will ‘lift the lid’ on the Museum’s fabulous, and sizeable, collection of shoes. Our visitors keep telling us they LOVE shoes! So, the Fashion Museum is thrilled therefore that this will be the year to showcase as many pairs, and as many styles – historical shoes, up-to-the-minute styles, platforms, trainers, stilettos, mules, slippers – as possible, both in the gallery displays here in Bath, and worldwide through our online platforms. Stand by for variety, originality, creativity… and pairs and pairs of fashionable and extraordinary shoes for men, women and children through the ages.”

Star objects in the display include:

  • The oldest shoe in the Museum’s collection: a red velvet mule with gold and silver embroidery covered with raised work metal thread embroidery in real gold thread ca 1690s.
  • Wooden pattens with iron ring ca 1720s – these were worn outside to save your shoes from the roads. In Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, the clatter of iron pattens on the streets of Bath gave Anne Elliot a headache.
  • Queen Victoria’s boots ca 1850s made by Joseph Box, London.
  • A pair of long green Russian boots ca 1900s worn by Lady Ottoline Morrell (1873 -1938), a six foot tall, flame-haired English aristocrat on the fringes of the Bloomsbury Group. Often remarked for her flamboyant and extraordinary sense of dress, Ottoline was well known in her day for her intense friendships with artist Augustus John and philosopher Bertrand Russell amongst others. All her clothes are in the care of the Fashion Museum collection.
  • Queen Mary’s diamante bow shoes ca 1930s – among the earliest shoes in the collection by celebrated British shoemaker Rayne. Rayne was holder of a Royal Warrant to Queen Mary, Queen Mother and the Queen. They supplied the shoes worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Anne on their wedding days as well as those worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich and Brigitte Bardot.
  • Futuristic golden wedge and plastic heel-less shoes from the 1950s made by Rayne.
  • Pieces from the wardrobe collection of historian and writer Roy Strong, from the 60s to the present day.
  • Several pairs of trainers and sneakers, from Converse to Nike Air Jordan.
  • A pair of Charles Jourdan shoes from the 1980s with high metal spike heels, donated by a lady called Ann, who called them The Kissing Shoes.  Ann had a tryst with a Polish sea captain who was very tall, so she bought very high shoes so she could kiss him!
  • A pair of Dr. Martens boots (about 2015) digitally printed with an image taken from famous series of Georgian paintings ‘The Rake’s Progress‘ by Hogarth.
  • Yellow silk-gold fringe shoe ca 1990s by Manolo Blahnik.

A special feature will be the Wearers’ Wall, at the heart of the Museum galleries, giving visitors a glimpse of the lives of the original owners and wearers of the shoes that are now preserved for posterity in the Fashion Museum collection in Bath.

From Joan Mee, who ran away from home in the 1940s to join the WRENS and spent the years of the Second World War serving in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), to socialite Rani Molly of Pudukkottai who chose shoes in a rainbow range of pastel-hued silk satin from the finest shops in the Rue Royale in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, these very personal choices, many still bearing the imprint of the wearer’s foot, will showcase the sartorial choices of named men and women of the past.

Entry to the Fashion Museum is £9.50. Concessions available. Free for local Discovery Card holders (

Photo:  Leather boots printed with ‘A Rake’s Progress’ by William Hogarth, Dr. Martens. Credit: Fashion Museum Bath

1 Comment

  1. If there are a pair of 1960/70 platforms in silver with rainbow appliqué, I donated them when I lived Bath. They has belonged to the Canadian ballet dance, Wayne Eagling.

    Sent from my iPad


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